Saturday, August 4, 2012

Rome Day 3: The Palatine Hill, A Splish, and a Splash

We were so tired from the day before that we decided to sleep in and have a less taxing day which began, of course, with chocolate croissants and cappuccinos. You know the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." We took that to heart regarding breakfast. And meals. And pastries. And walking everywhere instead of driving which, thankfully, kept us from gaining weight.

Do you remember Emperor Maxentius? In my post about the Forum, I explained that he ordered the construction of the Basilica of Maxentius. Well, Constantine had other ideas: he dethroned Maxentius and took over the basilica's construction. It should come as no surprise that he changed its name to the Basilica of Constantine and added a huge statue of himself. The basilica is now called either name or sometimes both names in conjunction with one another.

Near both the Forum and the Colosseum (which are basically across the street from one another) stands the Arch of Constantine which was built @AD 315 to celebrate Constantine's ousting of Maxentius. This arch is the youngest of the "triumphal" arches still standing, the others being the Arch of Titus and the Arch of Septimius Severus, both of which are in the Forum. These arches are "triumphal" in that they marked the triumphal route the emperors took as they entered Rome. After circling around Palatine Hill, they would pass through this arch as they turned to enter the Forum. As they entered the Forum on its east end, they would pass through the Arch of Titus, then would exit the Forum on its west end through the Arch of Septimius Severus. From there, they would head to Capitoline Hill (one of the 7 hills of Rome), which served as a fortress for the city.

One of the most interesting things about the Arch of Constantine is that many of its features (some of the statues and medallions) were actually removed from the ruins of other monuments and were reused. No wonder it took only three years to be built.
Palatine Hill is another of the 7 hills of Rome, from which you can see both the Forum and the Colosseum. There are several versions of a very interesting myth attached to Palatine Hill and regarding Romulus (remember his temple in my post about the Forum?) and his brother Remus. Wikipedia's version seems to be a compilation of several such versions: "Romulus and Remus are the twin brothers and central characters of Rome's foundation myth. Their mother was Rhea Silvia, daughter to Numitor, king of Alba Longa. Before their conception, Numitor's brother Amulius had seized power, killed Numitor's male heirs and forced Rhea Silvia to become a vestal virgin, sworn to chastity. Rhea Silvia conceived the twins by the god Mars, or by the demigod Hercules; once the twins were born, Amulius had them abandoned to die in the river Tiber. They were saved by a series of miraculous interventions: the river carried them to safety, a she-wolf found and suckled them, and a woodpecker fed them. A shepherd and his wife found and fostered them to manhood, as simple shepherds. The twins, still ignorant of their true origins, were natural leaders. Each acquired many followers. When they discovered the truth of their birth, they killed Amulius and restored Numitor to his throne. Rather than wait to inherit Alba Longa they chose to found a new city.

Romulus wanted to found a new city on the Palatine Hill; Remus preferred the Aventine Hill [another of the 7 hills of Rome]. They agreed to determine the site through augury [a divine indication] but when each claimed the results in his own favor, they quarreled and Remus was killed. Romulus founded the new city, named it Rome after himself, and created its first legions and senate. The new city grew rapidly, swelled by landless refugees; as most were unmarried, Romulus arranged the abduction of women from the neighboring Sabines. The ensuing war ended with the joining of Sabines and Romans as one Roman people. Thanks to divine favour and Romulus' inspired leadership, Rome became a dominant force, but Romulus himself became increasingly autocratic, and disappeared or died in mysterious circumstances. In later forms of the myth, he ascended to heaven and was identified with Quirinus, the divine personification of the Roman people."
Romulus and Remus were supposedly found by the she-wolf in a cave on Palatine Hill. This is the entrance to Palatine Hill.
 Taken from just inside the entrance, you can see the palace up on the hill. The entire site was actually known as Domitian's Palace, with separate structures for the emperors. 
My beautiful girls, always smiling!
This is the Domus Augustana, so named for the "august"emperors who lived there.
  In the background of these photos, you'll see the Domus Augustana, the part of the palace where the emperors lived. Later, Septimius Severus (remember his arch in the Forum?) added the wing to the left. 
Here's a closer view of the wing.
In the foreground of this photo is the Palatine Stadium, which may have been used for training horses or as a garden.
 This is the wall along the right edge of the stadium as seen in the above photo.
Look back at the photo of the Palatine Stadium (two pictures up). I was standing in the same place when I took this photo of the Colosseum.
 I don't think that Miss Emma was thrilled with the 100 degree heat, but she never complained. Of course, we kept telling her that gelato would be found after we finished checking out the Palatine. We aren't dumb! Hee hee!
 A former convent, this building now serves as the Palatine Museum.
This is the garden directly in front of the museum.
 These are some random shots of ruins on Palatine Hill. I never figured out their names. I'm sure I could if I looked at a map. But that would pretty much take more energy than I have at the moment, so let's just agree that they're cool and move on, shall we?
 This is one of several tunnels we found. We weren't able to see where it leads. 
 This is one of the earliest dwellings on Palatine Hill and is currently being excavated. Before the emperors took control of Palatine Hill, this is where the people with money built their homes. 
 After weaving through the maze of those excavations, we came to the House of Augustus (the home of Caesar Augustus while he reigned). We were able to go inside and see the ancient frescoes (paintings done on plastered walls or ceilings), dating back to BC 30.
 Here's another view from atop Palatine Hill. In the left background, you can see the Il Vittoria (the Victor Emmanuel Monument). Do you recognize any other buildings? Come on, peeps, this is a quiz to see if you've been paying attention! LOL
 I'm quite sure you'll recognize these silly faces.
We climbed down Palatine Hill and crossed through the Forum. As we did so, Emma asked, "Do we really need to look at all of these old building pieces AGAIN?" Too funny!

I know that I've already shown you a photo of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, but I really like this shot so I am posting it anyway. You know how much I like my photos with tree branches. :)
 We walked past the Forum of Casear as we did the day before
 until we came to Trajan's Column and the Church of the Holy Name of Mary.
 Here are a few close-ups. 
 Check this out: a Segway tour! Personally, I don't think I'd take one. Most of the streets in Rome are made of stone and are very uneven. It must be a pretty bumpy ride on one of these. But then again, that may have shaken my bad tooth lose and perhaps it would have fallen out on its own accord and I wouldn't be in the mess I'm in right now. Hmm. Okay, back to Rome. (That's why Rick tells me that my brain is like a bowl of spaghetti: somehow my thoughts become all intertwined but always seem to come out just right. Ha ha!)
 We decided to head back over to the Trevi Fountain to have dinner. I like this intersection. The traffic came from five different directions! I like the buildings; all different yet fascinating.
 At the bottom of the Spanish Steps, these carriages were waiting for riders. Emma enjoyed watching the horses as we splished in the fountain. (Yes, I know that splished is not really a word, but it goes with my post title. And I like the sound of it.)
Check out how crowded the Spanish Steps were!
I know I've already posted some photos of the Trevi Fountain, but it's so pretty to look at so I took a few more. I really like this one. 
 Emma tried a fresh piece of coconut. She generally loves coconut, but she definitely wasn't a fan of this. I don't blame her. I didn't like it, either. 
 We enjoyed dinner across the street from the Trevi Fountain, and then claimed some seats while we waited for the sun to go down. It was a long wait. The sun stayed up until almost 10!
 Miss Emma saw other people making wishes, so we handed her a few coins to make her own. Remember the song "Three Coins in the Fountain" (sung by Frank Sinatra in the movie by the same name) which won an Academy Award in the 1950's? It refers to the tradition of throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain while making a wish. Anyway, doesn't Emma look so freaking adorable with her eyes closed as she wished? I know! Cutest kid EVER!!!
 And then the coins splashed! (See why I needed splish?)
 The sun finally set. I took two photos, one with the flash 
 and one without. 
 Cool, huh?

In other news: Rick and the girls enjoyed the game at Fenway last night, the game I had to miss because of my very sore, achy, frumpy, old lady teeth. Dental problems are soooo not fun. Just sayin'. Anyway, they had fun despite the fact that the Sox lost. Again. I'm ready to fire Bobby Valentine (in my delusional little world the BoSox owners actually care what I think, ha ha). I don't like him. He seems to have done more harm than good. I really, really, REALLY  miss my team from a few years ago. And on top of all that, last night was Hall of Fame Night and I missed it! I MISSED IT! Curt Schilling was inducted. Now I know people have all sorts of strong opinions about Curt Schilling, but I like him. He was one heck of a pitcher. I even got to see him pitch in person at Fenway. I wore my Curt Schilling jersey and my Red Sox hat and took lots of pictures. Great day! But I digress. The point is that I'm still not over missing last night's game, but I am sooooooooooo over Bobby Valentine. Thanks for asking. :)

One advantage to all of this downtime due to my tooth is that I've now plowed through more than half of my 1,200 vacay photos. Up next: photos from the Vatican Museum. 

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Ciao ciao!
(It amused me that Italians say "ciao ciao" like we say "bye bye." Yes, I am easily amused.)

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